The Dallas Independent School District board of trustees is considering a policy change to open up new alternatives for handling student disciplinary cases.

The proposed changes to Dallas ISD’s 2024-2025 Student Code of Conduct were discussed by trustees during a Thursday meeting. A vote is slated for the next meeting on June 27.

While several revisions are targeted, including a new level 2 offense of “Hate Speech,” the most noteworthy change would open new avenues for disciplinary interventions for more minor offenses.

Currently, Dallas ISD has a four-level system for categorizing student misconduct and identifying the appropriate response.

Level 1 offenses range from disturbing the classroom to harassing another student. Level 2 offenses include assaulting another student or leaving school grounds without permission. Levels 3 and 4 constitute more serious offenses, such as the possession of drugs or alcohol and deadly conduct, and can lead to students being placed in the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.

Responses to minor offenses are often left to the school principal’s discretion. Options include temporarily placing the offender in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) or in a Reset Center, where a Student Engagement and Support (SEAS) team would try to identify the root causes of the misbehavior.

The policy revisions would add new alternatives for school leaders to turn to instead of sending a problematic child to a DAEP. Provided that the student’s parent agrees to three hours of parenting classes or advisory sessions, the student could be required to complete six hours of Saturday school, community service, peer tutoring, participation in a special project, or Suite 360 lessons.

According to the proposal, the intervention aimed at parents seeks to “provide support and guidance for area(s) of student concern,” which could include mental health support.

As previously covered in The Dallas Express, student misbehavior in the classroom has been a serious issue in schools across the country in the wake of the lockdowns seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dallas ISD trustees approved in June 2021 the establishment of 52 Reset Centers across the district as a $4 million initiative to end out-of-school and in-school suspensions.

Earlier this week, District 7 Trustee Ben Mackey and District 8 Trustee and Board President Joe Carreón wrote an opinion piece for The Dallas Morning News touting the initiative’s results.

“Since we opened our reset centers, we’ve seen a reduction in repeat offenses and improvement in student outcomes. Students are spending more time in class. The number of suspensions and reset center placements fell by 80% from 2019 to 2023. Furthermore, students are receiving the support they need, as recidivism has fallen by close to a third during that same time frame, with Black and Hispanic students benefiting the most,” the authors stated.

However, District 5 Trustee Maxie Johnson suggested that these positive results are not felt districtwide.

“That does not work in my community,” Johnson told fellow trustees during Thursday’s meeting, referring to DAEP and Reset Centers. “We’ve had kids curse our teachers several times … when a student realizes that he or she can continue to go down this path, they’re going to do it.”

He went on to explain that when disciplined children return to the classroom, they often continue to disrupt teaching.

“So, that does not work in District 5, so I need something to work because educators are not feeling the support,” he added.

District 5  — which includes parts of the Oak Lawn area, West Dallas, the cities of Wilmer and Hutchins, and parts of eastern and southern Oak Cliff — is home to some of the most troubled campuses in Dallas ISD. According to the Texas Education Agency’s accountability reports for the 2021-2022 school year, 15 schools earned below 70 out of 100 on their campus student achievement scores.

More recent data is unavailable due to ongoing litigation, which keeps accountability reports under wraps.